Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dry July and an extra challenge

"Dry July is a not-for-profit organisation determined to improve the lives of adults living with cancer through an online social community giving up booze for the month of July."
This month I've signed up for Dry July so that means no alcohol till August.
As you know I'm not that big a drinker apart for the espresso martini and Negroni, but that isn't every day. 
To up the ante on this challenge I am also including soft drinks. It may be my love of The Netherlands that feeds my semi-addiction to a soft drink that sports their flag. But for this month it will be no soft drinks to the MAX.
AB's participation limit was to inform me that I have a resident paparazzo on standby ready to tweet any snaps of soft drink related indiscretions to encourage me in the challenge.

During the month I'll post some of the alternative drink options I come up with like my previous cordial post.

Wish me luck as I start the journey...........but not until midnight!!

There is a Don't Boil The Sauce team for Dry July and I love it for Saucers to join in and help to make a difference for people living with cancer.

If you'd like to join me, or donate click the link below.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

No really it was nothing - Raspberry & Rosewater Labneh

A lot of people freak out when they see a recipe that takes a couple of hours, overnight or even days, but it's important to remember that you're not actively involved for that amount of time.

Patience is a virtue that allegedly based on gender I will never posses but as the hashtag states sexism stops with me so I'm ok with slow food.

48 hours is a good time frame for this dessert with about 4 minutes of participation required, how can anyone not love something pretty that takes zero effort?

Labneh is a thick strained yogurt cheese that can have an almost cheesecake like texture, sounds perfect so far. Natural yogurt is the key as the whey will separate where as some "thickened" yogurts don't separate to the same extent.

I have been experimenting using cheese moulds to shape the labneh but find the results to be not as attractive as I hoped. The raspberries may have something to do with it but I'll keep working on it as I have a vision of plating moulded labneh with crushed baklava and pistachios. Pomegranate seeds are another option and while deliciously tart I preferred the texture of the raspberry.

Raspberry Labneh
This recipe will serve 4-6
  • 1kg natural yogurt
  • 200g smashed raspberries (frozen)
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. rosewater (more or less depending on the strength of your rose water)
  • 80g pistachios toasted and chopped to garnish
  • Place a fine sieve over a large bowl
  • Add the yogurt and cover with plastic wrap
  • Let sit in the fridge for 24-48 hours (the longer the thicker and it will lose about 200g in whey)
  • Place yogurt into a mixing bowl
  • Add raspberries, icing sugar, rosewater and mix
  • Serve garnished with extra raspberries and pistachios
  • Photographed is about 24 hours straining, I could happily go thicker
  • I also haven't add the ingredients and then strained as I think that would be draining away flavour as well as whey.
  • It would also make a great cake filling

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Soupy Stars: Norma's cream of chicken soup

This is the 100th post of Don't Boil The Sauce so I have saved it for a very special recipe.
We may need a soundtrack and a tissue for this one.

Today is my Nan's cream of chicken soup, a recipe I have been trying to recreate for about 20 years. Without sounding like a reality TV show contestant my Nan passed away when I was about 10 and to young to have known to pay closer attention to her cooking. Why would you need to they will always be there to make your favourites right?

If there was ever the possibility of time travel I would go back and watch her like a hawk to document every move she made when making this soup. Nothing in this world can compare to a creamy velvet flavour exploding spoonful with its melt in the mouth chicken morsels.

It was a time when the words "Fat Free" meant a freebie at the butchers and food was made rather than opened. So there is nothing light about this soup except the colour, but you can substitute for lighter optional it will just be like getting a hug from the lesser favourite Nanna.

I don't have any proof of how good a cook she was as they didn't have Master Chef or blogs back then, but she did have a catering business and I knew none of the other nannas could compete. There was a great array of treats pouring from the kitchen but how much my memories have been embellished by time and longing I'm not sure. But I do fondly remember a thing called Flummery that I could steal fingers licks of while it set in the fridge, I think it was a whipped up jelly and maybe condensed milk. I just knew it was good.

While I have tried so many variations of this soup to create a recreation of that at Nan's kitchen table taste, I've come to the conclusion that the key ingredient is a cup and a half of nostalgia with just a pinch of regret.

Norma's Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 4-5 chicken thigh fillets skin off
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 litres full cream milk
  • 1.5 litres good chicken stock
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tbsp. plain flour
  • 300ml thick cream (extra to garnish)
  • 5-6 spring onions finely sliced
  • 1 small nutmeg
  • Salt and white pepper to season
  • Poach chicken thigh fillets and garlic in 1 litre of milk on low for about 20-30mintues till just cooked
  • Remove fillets and cut into small cubes
  • Add remaining milk and stock to pot and heat on low (it is easier to add warm liquid to the roux)
  • In a large pot on high melt the butter
  • Add the flour and mix together to make a roux
  • Let the paste cook for about 2 minutes then slowly add 2-3 cups of liquid and whisk together, beating out any lumps
  • It is now a process of slowly whisking on low heat and as the soup thickens add another 1-2 cups of liquid should take about 10-15 minutes
  • If liquid is added too quickly it will take forever to thicken up again
  • Add spring onions when all liquid has been added
  • Add chicken cubes and cream
  • Grate whole nutmeg (for me this is the secret ingredient so I go to town)
  • Season to taste
  • Serve with an extra dollop of cream and more nutmeg

Friday, June 21, 2013

Crumpin with a pumpkin

I have been making crumpins almost none stop, I just can't get enough. They are the no oven bread substitute of 2013.

Carly, who has said some lovely things about my blog also mentioned pumpkin and crumpins, so once a seed it planted. Check out her blog its a great read.

I used a pumpkin that was a surprise adoptee to the garden, growing of it's own accord but use your favourite variety. The Crumpins orange colour will be rely on the colour of the pumpkin, mine was quite light.

I have also double the recipe from previous crumpin post as they freeze very well so they are always on hand ready to defrost and toast.

Crumpin with a pumpkin
Ingredients makes about 25
  • 2 cup light milk
  • 100 g butter
  • 500g cold cooked pumpkin (steamed or boiled)
  • 1/2 cup light milk
  • 1kg plain flour
  • 25g instant yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 nutmeg grated
  • 4 cups light milk (6 1/2 cups of milk total)
  • Heat 2 cup of milk and butter till the butter is melted, either stove top or in a microwave for 2-3 minutes
  • Blend pumpkin and 1/2 cup milk till smooth
  • In a mixing bowl add flour, yeast, salt (on opposite side to yeast) and caster sugar
  • Add the 2 cups of milk and the milk and butter (adding the hot milk to cold milk will make it the right temperature without heating and waiting for all the milk to cool or killing the yeast)
  • Add pumpkin mix
  • Mix with electric beaters till smooth
  • Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 1 hour
  • In a frypan on low heat put 2-3 rings depending on how many you can fit.
  • Spray with cooking spray being careful not to blow yourself up if using a gas cook top e.g. take the pan away from the flame
  • Fill the rings with batter to about 1-2 cm, they will rise as they cook
  • Cook for about 10-12 minutes on one side and then remove ring
  • Carefully flip the Crumpin to cook the other side for about 5 minutes
  • They will firm as they cook and the side of the ring will help the side cook
  • Depending on how big you make them you can eat them whole or split/cut them in half
  • For a faux scone smaller pumpkin crumpins can be topped with pumpkin cream, grated nutmeg. Maybe add some crushed walnuts (not pictured)
  • To make pumpkin cream whip 100g cooked pumpkin, 1 tbsp. sugar with 300ml thickened cream

Soupy Stars: Pea and Bacon Quickie

The smell of a simmering pot of split pea and ham soup with the flaking succulent meat falling from the smoked hock can be a religious experience.
Oh now I might need a private moment.

Sometimes there just isn't time for the full experience so this is a quick homage.

With the peas being fresh (well frozen) and not dried this is like the younger version of the more mature soup, the enthusiasm and haste of youth with a hint of the glorious wisdom old age is yet to awaken.

That sounds a bit deep so I'll let my immaturity describe the soup with a little help from Iron Chef America and much peaness.

Pea and bacon soup
  • 4 medium red onions, roughly diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200g bacon
  • 1 potato, diced small
  • 1 kg frozen peas
  • 1-1.5 litres of water or stock (just enough to cover)
  • 250 ml sour cream
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2-3 mint sprigs (more or less depending on taste)
  • Boil kettle if using water or heat stock
  • Splash some olive oil into a large pot on high heat
  • Add onions and garlic
  • Remove rind from bacon, roughly chop and add to pot
  • Add potato
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook till onions softened about 10 minutes
  • Add peas and stir to coat
  • Add lemon juice
  • Cover with water or stock and cook on medium for 20-30 minutes
  • Blend to smooth (removing some liquid first if you think it will be too runny)
  • Season to taste
  • For the sour cream, mix through the zest of 1/2 a lemon and torn mint sprigs

Monday, June 17, 2013

Soupy Stars: Cream of Fennel Soup

Just like the brilliant Kath Day-Knight how can you not love to team with a theme?
So this winter we have Soupy Stars which came about because Kim a wonderful Saucer (twitter follower) said she was looking forward to soup recipes.
So not to disappoint there will be a whole series of soup recipes, there will be smooth, clear, creamy, chunky, hot, hairy, ok well there'll nothing hairy sorry about that ladies and gentlemen.
With many Saucers being in the northern hemisphere and in the midst of summer, the bonus of going global means I'll also be posting some perfect summer non soup recipes too, unless you want to put the air conditioner on full and grab a bowl of soup.
To kick off proceeding we are starting with fennel or finochio which for me conjures up Italy as much as tomatoes, pasta or hearing a "ciao bello". One of my favourites in salads, salami or thinly sliced on a pizza with some bresaola, parmesan and mayo, it even has it's own place in my garden.
Please grow for me, I know I'm not a real Italian but help a fratello out?

Cream of Fennel Soup with Sausage Croutons
  • 3 brown onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 whole fennel,  roughly chopped
  • 1 potato, chopped but smaller than the fennel
  • Vegetable stock (about 3-4 cups)
  • 150ml light cream
  • Olive oil
  • fennel fronds (the tips) for garnish
  • 1-2 Italian sausages

  • Add a splash of olive oil to a large pot on medium heat
  • Add onions, garlic, fennel and potato
  • Stir to coat in oil
  • Just cover with stock and simmer for about 30 minutes
  • When fennel is tender blend the soup smooth
  • To achieve a thicker soup remove some liquid before blending, reserve in case it needs to be added back
  • Add cream and blend through
  • To achieve an ultra smooth soup pass through a fine sieve but this is optional
  • To make the croutons squeeze out small amounts of sausage from the skin
  • Cook in a frypan on low for about 10 minutes till cooked
  • Serve garnished with croutons, fennel fronds and a splash of cream

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Raspberry Gelay..(to)

Sadly not the kind you'd buy at a second hand store but so much more delicious.

No bells or whistles just plan natural flavour, truly nothing better although you know I'll have something weird and wonderful just waiting in the wings.

I have included the ice bath in this recipe as it is true that the quicker you chill the custard the less chance of an icy crystallised gelato. I would normally just stick it in the freezer or fridge but the ice step is worth it for the results.

If you don't like a tart raspberry, we will never be besties (well maybe) but seriously add another 50g of sugar if you want your teeth to get the most from your private dental cover. (may not be a real concern, I am not a dentist, so you may see my face on television)

This concluded today's comedy gold edition of Don't Boil The Sauce, I'll head back to the kitchen now. (I'm sorry for assuming I'm funny, haven't been drinking I promise)

Raspberry Gelato
  • 300ml cream
  • 300ml milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean split (optional)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 150g sugar
  • 300g frozen raspberries crushed
  • Ice
  • Bash the raspberries in a bag (the one they come in works) with a meat tenderiser or rolling pin and return to freezer
  • Heat milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat
  • If using vanilla bean to milk and cream
  • Whisk eggs and sugar together till paler and thicker
  • When milk is just below the boil, slowly pour into eggs while whisking
  • Strain through a fine sieve (remove vanilla bean)
  • Return mixture to saucepan and stir over low heat
  • Stir till the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon
  • Make an icy water bath that a metal mixing bowl can sit in e.g. a sink or bigger bowl
  • Add the custard to a metal mixing bowl, place on ice and stir
  • Stir for a couple of minutes
  • When the custard has lost some heat add the frozen raspberries, this also helps to chill it but don't stir
  • Once cold churn as per your machine's instructions
  • No glamorous staged photo it is all about eating it

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sausage and Egg Crumpin

We all have our little food dirty secrets that we don't want the foodie paparazzi to snap us eating, mine was the drive-thru breakfast but after such a public declaration of my self imposed ban I'm even too scared to drive past said establishment.

Yes with my ever increasing twitter following I am lame enough to believe the paparazzi would be interested in me. (Sad isn't it)
I now even wear 2 pairs of underpants just in case they try and snap me getting out of the car, although I should think wearing jeans should see me safe there.

I do miss a meat patty and egg muffin though in all it's peppery glory, it had the staying power to be with you all day. The Italians even do fast food better and I remember their breakfast meat patty flavoured with fennel. So in lieu of a 27 hour flight I have put my Crumpins to good use.

There is no science behind the ingredients in the patty it was just what was in the fridge.
Sausage patty
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 200g pork mince
  • 100g beef stir fry strips (optional but adds more body)
  • 100g streaky bacon
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Toast fennel seeds for 30 seconds in a hot fry pan
  • Grind seeds and salt in a mortar and pestle
  • Add all ingredients to a food processer and blend, not too smooth.
  • Shape into 1-2cm thick patties, I cheat and use the cake tin I use for the Crumpin to help with sizing
  • In a fry pan on medium seal one side of the patty then flip.
  • Don't squeeze the patty as that pushes out the moisture.
  • They should take about 7-8 minutes to cook and makes about 6
  • For the egg I also used the cake tin as a mould but also added some left over eggs whites, and just fried as normal
  • Assemble as pictured or whatever combination you like, bacon, no bacon, no egg, double patty......
  • A slice of cheese or two is a must but I don't add sauce due mainly to memories of sauce dripping onto my tie before work, always carry a spare!

This one I call Eileen...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wood Panels and Ham and Chicken Rolls

My childhood was filled with Chinese restaurants, the good, the bad and the ugly. Not that I'm one for gross generalisations but I have a theory the uglier the restaurant the better the food.

Being a child of the 70's (restaurant going 80's) wood panelling was a must in any quality restaurant followed up by an appropriate anointing of square plastic tasseled lanterns, I assumed depicting a Chinese fable.

But you knew you had hit taste bud gold when you had to complete an obstacle course of various sized banquet ready table tops lining the passageway to the bathroom.

As I grew older I would venture through a variety of establishments adorned with lattice dividers, an aquarium of menu options and the latest Chinese versions Madonna track blaring throughout.
Even with the most elaborate interiors and silky smooth turning of the Lazy Susan I feel reassured when there's a glimpse of wood panel.

My favourite menu staple was the ham and chicken roll, crispy yet juicy and at times with just a hint of SPAM.
They were a menu guarantee till I moved 700km south and they are an unheard of item!!

Ham and Chicken Roll
Ingredients for approx. 8 rolls
  • Spring roll wrappers (about 16 depending on how big you make them)
  • 1 large chicken breast skin off
  • 2 large chicken thigh fillets skin off
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • Ham strips cut into 1 cm thick and about 10cm long (see note)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. Chinese cooking wine (optional)
  • 3-4 tbsp. corn flour
  • Oil for frying
  • Place chicken in a saucepan of cold water and poach gently on low heat till just done
  • Drain chicken and roughly cube and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
  • In a mixing bowl add the chilled chicken, spring onions, salt, pepper, cooking wine and corn flour
  • Mix to combine, the chicken should be coated without there being too much of a paste
  • Onto a 2 spring roll wrappers (1 on top of the other) place a small amount of chicken mixture
  • Place a ham strip in the middle
  • Add a little more chicken if needed
  • Try to surround the ham with chicken in the centre of the roll (mine are hip and a bit off centre)
  • Roll up the spring roll and seal the end with some water
  • Fry in a saucepan of hot oil for 3-4 minutes till golden brown
  • Let the roll drain in a colander over a bowl
  • To serve cut the roll diagonally into 4 pieces, alternatively leave them whole.
  • Serve with chilli sauce or the traditional super sweet but not very sour bottled sweet and sour sauce.
Note: You could use ham steaks or ask your deli to cut a 1 cm thick slice for you, but nothing smoky as it will take over the flavour. I remember the ham in the original being very much like SPAM so that is another option.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Unholy bit of crumpet.....

No it's not the latest Carry On movie or even a really sad Dad joke but a delicious crumpet muffin hybrid.
Just like Branjelina it needed a power couple name so......introducing the Crumpin, I just didn't feel right about Muffpet.

Perfect for a weekend breakfast in less time than it takes to make a good loaf. If you have to get up at 6am to let the chickens out or answer a call of the wild you can make the batter and then go back to bed while it gets busy proving.

I cook these over a low heat which is why the holes don't really appear and the middle has the fluffiness of a muffin rather than the firmness of a store bought crumpet.

They also are the right base to create a home style version of a certain drive thru restaurant chain's breakfast treat that I no longer partake in since my ban on the drive thru.
More on that in another post.

There are crumpet rings available but I use the side of a spring form 9.5cm cake tin, gotta love a dual purpose item to save cupboard space.

  • 1 cup light milk
  • 50 g butter
  • 500g plain flour
  • 10g instant yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 2 cups light milk
  • Heat 1 cup of milk and butter till the butter is melted, either stove top or in a microwave for 1-2 minutes
  • In a mixing bowl add flour, yeast, salt (on opposite side to yeast) and caster sugar
  • Add the 2 cups of milk and the milk and butter (adding the hot milk to cold milk will make it the right temperature without heating and waiting for all the milk to cool or killing the yeast)
  • Mix with electric beaters till smooth
  • Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 1 hour (have a snooze)
  • In a frypan on low heat put 2-3 rings depending on how many you can fit.
  • Spray with cooking spray being careful not to blow yourself up if using a gas cook top e.g. take the pan away from the flame
  • Fill the rings with batter to about 1-2 cm, they will rise as they cook
  • Cook for about 8-9 minutes on one side and then remove ring
  • Carefully flip the Crumpin to cook the other side for about 5 minutes
  • They will firm as they cook and the side of the ring will help the side cook
  • You can add a knob of butter to the ring before the batter but I find this browns them too quickly
  • Depending on how big you make them you can eat them whole or split/cut them in half
  • They would be perfect to cook on a BBQ hotplate or electric griddle

Cheese and Chive variation
  • Reduce the caster sugar to 1 tbsp.
  • Add to the batter 80g grated parmesan and 8-10 chives finely chopped
  • Serve with butter and more chives